Wisconsin ranks No. 9 among bike-friendly states

Wisconsin has dropped from third to ninth in bike-friendly state rankings

A recent ranking of bike-friendly states puts Wisconsin in the top 10 again, but this year Wisconsin drops from third to ninth.

Over the years, Wisconsin has made huge strides in becoming friendlier to bicyclists with more bike lanes, bike laws and bike safety, but this year the state fell six spots and it could be because of a proposed cut to legislation.

Scot McCollum has been a bike enthusiast for more than 30 years and if he could have it his way, everyone would ride a bike. His career even revolves around bikes at Smith’s Cycling and Fitness in La Crosse.

“I am a bicycle fitter, bike mechanic, inventory-control specialist, all around jack of all trades,” said McCollum.

He’s only been in the area for about seven years but says he is impressed with the bike-friendly community.

“La Crosse is a great place to live. It’s a great place to ride,” said McCollum. “If you want to go beyond riding in town, like out into the country, it’s right there at our backdoor.”

McCollum said the city of La Crosse has made a lot of progress over the years, but a proposal by Gov. Scott Walker to repeal Wisconsin’s “complete streets” law could slow down those efforts.

“Complete streets is a program that is designed to make streets not just accessible for automobile traffic, but for all users,” said McCollum.

“It requires any project that occurs on a state road to consider bicycle and pedestrian accommodations,” said Jackie Eastwood, transportation planner for La Crosse County.

If the law is overturned, McCollum said it may affect a biker’s safety on the road.

“We can all get to where we want to go safely. That’s really the basis of complete streets,” said McCollum. “Without that funding, we go back to designing for cars and forcing speeds up.”

Eastwood isn’t as concerned.

“It would be more worrisome if we had people that were making the decisions locally that didn’t care, but that is not the case,” said Eastwood.

Although Eastwood would prefer to keep the law, she is confident city officials, as well as residents like McCollum, won’t let the city pedal backward.

“I think we have a very devoted population here,” said Eastwood.

“Definitely have to get more creative,” said McCollum.

If Wisconsin gets rid of its complete streets law, Walker’s budget committee has estimated the state would save $7.4 million over a two-year period.

The Bicycle Friendly States ranking is based on survey answers by state departments of transportation and state bicycling advocates.